London Festival of Architecture 2017

Rainham Hall during the day nursery era (1943-1954)

The London Festival of Architecture is Europe’s biggest annual architecture festival, which in 2017 explored the theme of 'memory'.

The London Festival of Architecture returned to the capital from 1-30 June 2017 with hundreds of events exploring ‘memory’. At Rainham Hall Remembering the Day Nursery was a perfect fit as integral to the exhibition were the memories of people who attended the nursery from 1943-1954.

In 1942, Essex County Council requisitioned the Hall during a time of national crisis and set up a wartime day nursery for children under the age of five. The Georgian house was converted from a private home to state-run facility for local mothers. For the first time, it was a public, communal building and the grand front door opened each morning to the youngest members of the community.

In the day-time Rainham Hall was filled with the chatter and clatter of little children and their carers, but closed and silent at night. The story of this remarkable era in the Hall’s history was told through the exhibition as remembered by Roger, Janice, John, Diane, Joe, Linda, and Pat, who all attended as children.

Visitors discovered tales of childhood enriched by memories of playtime, meals and naps, but also through the hazy mis-memories of a childhood spent in the Hall; with its staircases that seemed to go on forever.